If you are a swinging voter would you, in the light of this government’s behaviour over the past 30 months, think that they deserve to be returned to power at a general election?
Before you answer, consider the litany of broken promises wrapped up in the disastrous 2014 budget. Consider the resignations of 14 government ministers in less than three years. Consider their record on the economy, or more accurately, their lack of it. Most of all, consider the dysfunctional behaviour of Tony Abbot.
One thing is certain. If this was a Labor government in disarray, the mainstream media would be crucifying them such that they would turning swinging voters away in their droves, just as they did in 2013.
At the moment the government disarray is so self-evident the MSM is hardly needed. The parallels between what is happening inside the Liberal party now and what occurred with Labor in 2013 are plain for all to see. Except, it is worse.
Tony Abbott, who was described on Sunday by Laura Tingle on Insiders as “an oaf” is conducting himself in an unmistakably Ruddesque way. His perceived nihilistic approach will undoubtedly cost the government seats when the election is held.
The question is: how many?
Abbott has even tried to lead the tax debate by claiming Labor will introduce 5 new taxes. This is not the job of a backbencher and in saying what he did, he has effectively ruled out 5 possible tax reforms the government might have liked to consider.
In short, he has become a loose cannon and seriously damaged their election prospects.
By now the polls should be indicating a landslide victory for Labor, not just regaining seats lost in 2013, but winning a bucket load of additional seats that would ensure a comfortable majority.
Such a result would only require a swing of around 4% on 2013 results, but the fact is, Labor is still a long way from achieving that.
History shows us that Labor always struggles to win elections while the conservatives, no matter how dysfunctional, fare much better. Labor rarely has large majorities while the conservatives often win in landslides.
What is it about Labor that they struggle to get their message across? The short answer is honesty. Labor has it. The conservatives don’t. Labor will go to extraordinary lengths to articulate the finer detail of controversial policies.
By contrast, the LNP will gloss over detail preferring to touch on the emotive side with dishonest analogies, deceitful costings, inventive modelling and outright lies.
When faced with difficult questions, they divert attention by pressuring Labor, who end up boxing themselves into a corner trying to be as upfront as they can with the electorate.
Honesty is a tactic Labor should not change. They should, however, be warning the voters of the Coalition’s dishonesty during the 2013 election campaign. They should be questioning their honesty.
The last time we ever witnessed the Coalition under pressure was in 1993 when John Hewson was trying to be honest about a goods and services tax.
When asked if a birthday cake bought for a child’s party would attract a GST, he faltered, clearly unable to explain his policy in sufficient detail. The next day, Paul Keating uttered the words that ultimately cost John Hewson the un-loseable election. He said, “If you don’t understand it, don’t vote for it.”
Bill Shorten needs to take note of history. Firstly, be upfront and honest about how Labor’s policies will impact on the community, which means being 100 per cent across the detail.
But secondly, be aggressively critical of government policies in such a way that the MSM can’t ignore, whether they want to or not. The Coalition must be put under the same pressure. They won’t have much to offer having already ruled out multiple options on tax reform, so they will resort to what they do best.
They will go negative and turn the attention away from their self-evident, appalling record and concentrate on how much worse it will be under Labor. It is the coward’s approach and they are very good at it.
Forcing the Coalition to explain the detail of their policies will show them up. They are not used to that sort of attention.
Thirdly, Labor should unashamedly demonstrate their superior economic qualifications.
When the Coalition lost office in 2007, Australia was the 9th best performing economy in the world based on the IAREM global index. By 2013, when Labor were defeated, our economy was the best performing economy in the world. By 2015 we had slipped back to 9th place again.
The IAREM (Independent Australia Ranking for Economic Management) uses eight variables to assess economic performance namely, income, growth rate, median wealth, jobs, inflation, taxation, net government debt and economic freedom.
How then, were the Coalition able to convince the voters that the economy was in a poor state? The main reasons were outright lies, destructive analogies and a cowardly negative approach, supported by an MSM sympathetic to conservative rule, willing to turn a blind eye to the Coalition’s weaknesses.
But there was also another reason. Labor did not believe sufficiently in their own economic management. They allowed themselves to be bulldozed into believing the Coalition’s rhetoric. They cowered under the pressure.
If Labor want to be recognised for their achievements they have to believe that they are better and demonstrate that with facts that are plain to see.
If you are a swinging voter, look beyond the false rhetoric and the glossy exterior that is Malcolm Turnbull. Government is about management. How much of that have we had over the past 30 months?